September 11th was a tragedy for the American people, but it was a boon for dictators around the world. In the pursuit of its so-called 'war on terror,' the United States has forged military alliances and inked trade deals with some of the world's most repressive regimes. On September 13, 2001 China was quietly admitted to the World Trade Organization, and given Most Favored Nation status by U.S., despite the fact the country is one of the world's worst human rights abusers.
For the last half-century, the Tibetan people have endured the brunt of the Chinese governments brutal policies. Since 9/11, their plight has all but disappeared from the headlines.
A dark chapter
The Chinese have long claimed Tibet is part of greater China. Shortly after the communists took power, in 1950 40,000 Chinese troops invaded Tibet, occupying the vast, arid land known for its rich history of Buddhism. Ten years later, Tibetans rose up and fought back. Tibetan exiles claim that 430,000 died during the uprising and the subsequent fifteen years of guerrilla warfare. Tibets spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled to India, where he has lived ever since. According to Tibetan activists, 1.2 million Tibetans have been killed in the years since.
In exile, the Dalai Lama has led one of the world's most high-profile non-violent resistance movements against a foreign occupier, attracting international support from tens of thousands of grassroots activists and scores of A-list celebrities.
Yet despite the tireless work of pro-Tibetan activists around the world, the Chinese government continues maintain its tight grip on Tibetan, with no let up in sight.
As China's economy continues to rapidly expand, it desperately needs Tibet's vast natural resources. Estimates of deforestation vary, but many experts believe as much as half of Tibet's natural forest cover has been destroyed since the Chinese occupation. Rich in oil, China has been pumping Tibetan oil out of Tibet with little or no of the wealth flowing back into Tibet. China has even admitted to dumping nuclear waste on the Tibetan plateau.
Detentions, kidnappings, torture and the destruction of Tibetan Buddhist heritage continue to this day.
Featuring activists, archival footage, and interviews with Tibetan and environmental activists, Faith in Exile offers a powerful lesson for troubled times. Faith in Exile features the dramatic story of Palden Gayatso, a Tibetan monk imprisoned and tortured for 35 years in a Chinese jail. His courage and spirit in the face of overwhelming cruelty is a lesson in how only love can overcome hate.
Editorial note from GNN: Faith in Exile was originally conceived to air during what was to be the biggest Tibetan Freedom Concerts ever (London, 2001) - sadly the concert never happened. GNN, in conjunction with the Milarepa Fund and Students for a Free Tibet, completed the project for use by activists and the GNN community.
For another point of view on China, Tibet and the Dalai Lama, see Disinfo.com, where you can read information regarding allegations the Tibetan resistance was aided by the CIA, as well as a scathing critique of Tibet's pre-invasion feudal society and the Dalai Lama's philosophy.
For the official Chinese government's side of the story see: China's Tibet
If you want to help the Tibetan people, you can find out the latest news and how you can get involved at the Students for a Free Tibet's web site.